National park bosses have rejected plans to convert a Victorian school in the heart of Royal Deeside into new homes, despite their own planners backing the scheme.
Grampian Housing Association (GHA) had applied for permission to convert the former Ballater school, which dates back to 1877, into 26 affordable homes.
Ordinarily Aberdeenshire Council would decide on planning matters but Cairngorms National Park Authority called the application in as it was deemed to be of major significance.
However, despite the park’s planning officers recommending it for approval the committee decided to throw out the scheme.
Objectors addressed the committee and acknowledged there was a need for affordable housing in the area.
But they raised concerns about access to the site and also the density of properties on the site, on Abergeldie Road.
Following a site visit and a lengthy debate, the committee rejected the proposals on the grounds of access, density, lack of amenities and road safety.
Last night the developers said they were considering their options going forward.
Craig Stirrat, director of business development for GHA, said: “While the provision of affordable housing was supported, unfortunately planning permission was refused after the site visit and hearing objections on the basis that site access and amenity were inadequate given the density of the site.
“Obviously we are really disappointed, particularly for those housing applicants who have indicated that Ballater is their first choice of area to live in. We will now have to consider our options in view of this decision.”
If approved the site would have been converted into 10 homes, with new houses proposed within the school yard, along with 11 flats and the redevelopment of two other buildings to create a further two properties.
Eleanor Mackintosh, convener of the planning committee, said: “The planning committee were positive about many elements of the development but regrettably road safety issues meant that we were unable to approve the application.
“We are well aware of the need for more affordable housing in Ballater and we very much hope that a proposal for affordable housing comes forward that addresses these concerns.”